On the subject of…ME (&YOU) #selfpreservation
Last week’s blog discussed eating well and how I balance that with enjoying meals, indulging in the occasional splurge without feeling guilty, and making it all happen while juggling everything else I have going on from day to day. This week, I’m tackling the other two points I hit on in that guest blog – simultaneously.
I tried my first cigarette sometime in junior high. I had no interest in drinking or exploring “recreational” things, so this was my “natural” pre-teen/teenage rebellion. Hindsight is always 20/20. I quit smoking cigarettes on July 11, 2018. I made the “hard and fast” switch to using a Juul vape pen. I tried to quit using the Juul in January 2019 and failed miserably. I switched from the Juul to a different vape device sometime in February and was able to continue to cut down my use. I tried again to quit completely after my March mini-vacation and, again, failed miserably. I’m back to using a vape pen and I am okay with that. I know the nicotine intake is not doing anything positive for my health, but I am also confident in my belief that it is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. (Note: I’ve honestly done ZERO research on this, but make the assumption and am A-okay with continuing on blindly in this belief… for now, at least. Maybe a later blog will be a research comparison between cigarettes and vaping.)
I wish I knew how much that addiction would hold close to me and control me through my life. I’m currently in this weird state of realization that the addiction is mental / emotional, and manifests at its strongest with the presence of stress or deep negative emotions in my life. When I’m happy and everything in life seems to be at a euphoric state of peace and calm (like when I’m unplugged on vacation, outside my regular environment), I don’t have cravings and I don’t miss cigarettes. My thoughts from that April blog are facts for me though – The anxiety I get with a craving is really another way my body is telling me, “You are STRESSED. You need a BREAK. Go take some deep breathes!” And so I do, but since a getaway isn’t possible in the middle of a workday, I resort to the 5-10 minute break my body is asking for, with a vape. I know there is only so much I can control when it comes to the anxieties I feel and where those come from, but I also know what IS within my control with these areas, which brings me to the third point I made in that April blog –
~ * ~ I am the only person who can allocate my time to what is important to me ~ * ~
I am 100% in control of the people I allow in my life, and the amount of presence I allow them to have in my life. I am also 100% in control of how much “screen” time I partake in with social media and my phone. Not every call needs to be answered simply because my phone is ringing. It’s okay to say “no” to the interruption and to call someone back at a time convenient for YOU. The same is true of text messages, replying to posts and pictures on social media, tweeting and retweeting, and “liking” all of those adorable baby photos your friends are posting. Since my April realization, I have done a much better job of replying to others when it works for ME. I’ve also started to actively identify when I am mindlessly scrolling Facebook, Instagram, or whatever, and stop when I decide it isn’t how I want to be spending my time.
I have gotten better at saying “No” to invitations when attending will:
Place me in a negative or toxic environment
Stress me out in some way – squeezing this activity in when I already have other events I’ve committed to, not having the finances to attend, not wanting to allot my finances to attending the event, not wanting to see other guests I know will be in attendance, feeling as though I will be judged or approached by other guests in a condescending way, etc.
I just don’t want to; I don’t have a concrete reason but something inside me is saying, “Don’t go. Just don’t.” This is called intuition and I have learned through trial and error to LISTEN TO IT. This has nothing to do with who or what you believe in – it’s simply a feeling. It’s my body telling me – for whatever reason – This isn’t a good idea. When I haven’t listened to this in the past, it has led to #1, #2, or a combo, so now I take it pretty seriously and I do what I think is best for me.
#3 upsets others sometimes. They haven’t understood, don’t agree with my decision, blah blah blah. Without meaning to be disrespectful, that’s what their opinions are to me – BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. Whatever I was invited to is (pretty much always) not about me (and that’s 100% okay), but if my attendance isn’t going to be positive for me, then let’s face it – it won’t be positive for others either. Let’s not confuse this with doing things to make others happy or putting others before yourself, because that is important as well. The key with this, is that when I go somewhere or do something with someone which I wouldn’t normally do, is out of my comfort zone, or that I wouldn’t be doing without the influence of someone else, I pretty much always find myself enjoying whatever it is because of the happiness it brings to the other person. Their happiness spills over onto me. Think of the emotions as material things – like an appetizer. If someone brings something negative/toxic, it slowly is circulated through the rest of the attendees and the toxicity takes over. It ruins the event in one way or another. Similarly, if the emotion is positive, it also gets shared with the rest of the attendees and enriches the experience.
~ * ~ I (and only I) have the ability to permit and prohibit toxicity in my life ~ * ~
I know my mind and soul NEED time to relax, gain peace, re-energize, and just breathe. For me, the easiest and most effective way to do this is through yoga. I do not associate yoga with any religion or culture. For me, yoga is a calming, athletic activity which yields mental, emotional and soulful benefits as well. My focus is on holding a pose for the allotted time, so my mind is clear and focused on that. My breathing steadies so my body is able to physically balance each pose. Because I work out in other ways, the stretching increases my flexibility but also keeps my muscles loose and relaxed, not tightening from a run or high-cardio workout.
Yoga is one of my things. Working out is another. Hiking is a powerful (but not regular) third. These are my ways to relax, center myself, and find calm. Who knows what yours are? I didn’t discover yoga until the age of 30. I lost it for a year or two, but I found it again and I LOVE the peace it gives me, how it centers me, and how significantly BETTER my days are when they begin and/or end with yoga. Jazz shared her things – running, fishing and horticulture. Not so surprisingly (and as Jazz discovered when taking a closer look, they ALL involve a. Activity and b. (Usually) Nature.
These are my ways of preserving ME – who I am, what I stand for, how I present myself, and how I project myself to the world. These are my “happy” things for ME. Recognizing these things and how much they lend to my self-preservation has been vital to being a happy, productive, fun, kind, likeable adult.
If you’re interested in getting more active, exploring yoga, stretching before/after your runs, or just want to explore a new app, check out Sworkit. I use this for my stretching and for instructed yoga. I get to pick what I’m doing, for how long, and since it’s on my phone, I can do it ANYWHERE. Hope it brings you joy!